It’s 1962. Kennedy is in the White House and Jackie has made pillboxes the headgear of choice. The Pope has excommunicated Fidel Castro. K-Mart opens its first store. Then, on March 25, comes the Annunciation, when we celebrate the Archangel Gabriel heading to Judea to find the young and dyslexic Mary, mooning around trying to spell Immaculate so that it does not end up looking like Inoculate; and he gives her the exciting news that she will be the mother of God. How do you spell that? She asks.
Meanwhile, in the environs of Boston the quite obviously not immaculate Monique is on her way to the hospital to deliver herself of yet another child. Her eldest child, the soul of thoughtfulness and discretion, tells her, “Don’t come back if it’s a boy. Trade him, or something.”
A week later Monique returns with the adorable bundle of musical precocity, smelling sweetly in her politically-correct organic cotton diapers. Brigitte, as she will henceforth be known on alternate Tuesdays, is greeted with glee by her doting family.
Later that same year, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is published so that instead of merely experiencing the degradation of the planet, the world can now read about it and lament.
A year later and it is 1963. The infant Birgitta has proved herself to be the cutest child EVER to have walked on this earth. Anyone who suggests there has ever been a cuter girl-child will be drawn, quartered, disemboweled, garroted, grilled, fricasseed, and fed to wild beasts by Christine, who at age 11 has become something of an expect in gruesome forms of martyrdom.
Soon, young Burgette starts kindergarten. Following in her brother Peter’s footsteps – but with that preternaturally adorable donut thing in her hair – she masters woodshop and cross-dressing. When the French begin nuclear testing on an atoll in Polynesia, she says “Zut alors!” and asks her teacher if the class can boycott escargots on the lunch menu.
It is now 1967 and the country barely survives the civil rights turmoil; likewise Birgitia barely survives being crash test dummy for her brothers' ice boat, but learns the potential of renewable energy.
In 1969, the youngest Lehner lobbies for a class trip to see the Cuyahoga River in flames. The flames reach 5 stories. Burguette quotes, “A picture is worth a thousand words, and a putrid smell is even more powerful.” Her teacher takes them all to the Arnold Arboretum instead.
Bargette turns 10 in 1972 and it is no coincidence that after lengthy congressional mouthing off, filibustering and nose-picking, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act is finally passed. Young Bargette celebrates by killing a colony of paper wasps in a politically correct and holistic way: she drowns them in boiling oil.
It is 1975 and Birdet officially enters puberty. All three of her sophisticated and mature make constant stupid jokes about sacrificing virgins. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with endlessly repeating a good joke – or even a very bad joke –they harp on the sacrificial virgin theme so often that Mass Conversion takes place. In other news, Congress passes the Hazardous Waste Transportation Act, ensuring that no hazardous waste will ever travel Coach class again.
Bargetta graduates from Milton in 1980. Jimmy Carter is defeated and Reagan is elected; this causes many to despair but not young Bargetta, she is heading to Brown U. and knows she will soon join the army of environmental fighters.
For anyone with a brain, or lungs, the following years were challenging if not completely disheartening. VP George Bush proposed eliminating the phase-out of leaded gas and the US. Congress amended the Endangered Species Act in order to build a dam that did not generate electric power and flooded important Cherokee historical sites. Over in India, Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal leaked toxic chemicals. Chernobyl blew up. On the plus side, Baguetta met the love of her life, the man of her dreams, her very own dreamboat, sweetheart and yummikins, and I do not allude to Kermit the Endangered Amphibian. Nope, it was that wild and woolly Harold aka Hal, K-. It is rumored that they had wild sex while suspended from trapezes in the Brown squash courts, but we don’t like to repeat such lurid rumors.
A brief glance at the backlists of Cambridge University Press from 1984 to 1986 will be enough to make manifest what Bargette was doing there:
Nordic Skiing and Alexandrian Couplets: The Lacanian View
Images of Clean Water and Baths in Seventeenth Century Salon Paintings
Trimarans: How they Signify in a Bifurcated Society
Dam Destruction and Liberation Theology in the Amazonian Basin
In either 1987 or 1988 Burgit married Harold “Hal” K-, that same fellow with whom she cavorted on the trapezes, or not, depending on which version you believe.
In grad school Burgit’s emphasis was on the Judicial Imperative to Lobotomize Climate-Change Deniers for their Own Good. She received High Honors, and a Gift Certificate for a Vaginal Ultra Sound with the Republican and or Mormon doctor of her choice. Because yes, she was pregnant. Though, being a virgin, she has no idea how this happened.
A Gallup poll of 1990 finds 76 percent of Americans call themselves "environmentalists." Brigitta is elated until she discovers that by “environmentalist” most Americans mean “someone who lives in the environment and is not dead yet”. She takes young Matthew toddling in the woods and teaches him how to hug trees.
1995 proves to be a complex year. For the first time in decades the Republicans gain control of the US Congress and their first order of business is to kill all environmentalists but only after forcing them to undergo vaginal ultrasounds.
In 1999 Bridgett and Christine accompany the Aged P’s to Ethiopia and they personally discover the ancient hiding place of the Arc of the Covenant. They decide to keep this a secret.
By 2003 the Bush Administration has compiled the worst environmental record of any US president in history. Under fire by Bush and Congressional Republicans are the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the toxic waste Superfund, the Right to Know Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act and many more. Bridgot and Carl and their families go the Galapagos Islands where they find Charles Darwin rolling over in his grave and weeping.
Despite the urging of his advisors, McCain chooses Sarah Palin over Brigitte as his running mate, and he goes on to lose spectacularly to Obama in 2008. Matthew goes off to college- Hope and change come to America, and Matthew.
In 2010 Brigote visits the Arctic aboard a derelict Russian icebreaker named for a Stalinist starlet; her passion for polar bears is re-ignited while watching a polar bear mama masticate seal flesh while winking. The following year, the Arctic sea ice reaches an historic low.
In the summer of 2011 The Climate Change Denier conference takes place in Washington, intending to restore ‘scientific method” to climate science. Brigette and Hal ride their tandem bike down to the capital and pass out life jackets to anyone who lives within 20 miles of the shore, and barf bags. Then they bike back to Maine.
And finally we arrive at 2012, a leap year and the occasion of Brigitte’s fiftieth birthday. Happy Birthday and may the next fifty be equally happy, busy and a joy to behold.